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Thread: To Lubricate

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    To Lubricate

    Do tripods and ball heads need lubricating and what type of lube is used?
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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Not usually no
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    Thanks Rick.

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    Member KeeFy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fjoe45 View Post
    Do tripods and ball heads need lubricating and what type of lube is used?
    Markins recommend using WD40 for their ballheads about once a year or so, but that's the manufacture's recommendation and it may differ for yours. As for tripod legs, I use high temp food grade grease just to stop water and dirt from getting through the legs, it's really not necessary.. i did it more along the lines for fun and a little more protection... oh yeah .. did i mention i was bored too? LoL.

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    Lubricating ballheads can only attract dust and dirt to stick to the ball and mechanisms.

    Ever sprayed WD40 on something and left it out in the air?
    It doesn't take long for dust and debris to be attracted to it and stick like the proverbial to a blanket.

    Personally, I wouldn't lubricate ball heads.

    I have an Acratech GP ball head, and as this is an open design, you can flush it out with a hose, but they say NOT to use any lubricants on it.
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    G'day FJ

    You could consider a 'dry' lubricant .... used in 1001 places and items. It's graphite powder in a small squirt bottle - simple to use and does not attract gunk like 'wet' lubes do

    ps- Ricki > just looked at my Manfrotto 3-way tripod head & it is greased inside.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    LOL! What ballhead.

    I'm currently almost completed writing up a tripod/head review, and have a small section on lubrication.

    I can only give you advise as to what I've been through with my gear and a can or two of WD spray to fix it up.

    Each manufacturer has their specific designs and they're too different to make general statements on maintenance.

    if you have either a Manfrotto 488 or a MG468 type ballhead, all I can advise to get the best performance from it is to clean it with WD spray until it stops dripping black goop

    Seriously!
    This is what I did to get mine to work 'properly'.

    Seems as tho Manfrotto use some kind of grease on these two heads that I have experience with, and mine had shameful operating performance until I wasted a can of WD spray on them to clean it all out.

    The advise that stuff clings to WD spray is ill founded but only in a particular way.
    n general a ball type joint with fast rotational forces requires grease and good lubrication. say as a balljoint in a cars driveshaft. But a tripod is a different matter. it doesn't spin with any velocity, so to have lubricant over it that attracts dust is of no consequence .. it won't wear out .. just become gunked up at some point .. as they all will.
    The greasy substance that Manfrotto used on my ballheads were of a slippery consistency and of all the dumb things to do, it made the ballhead not grip as well as it should have.
    So in cleaning it all off, now the 488 which was worse affected can now grip properly(in that it doesn't droop any longer) the largest lens I can throw at it. It's still totally inadequate for the job, but this is not the point. That I can lock it down and it stays locked is half the battle.

    In the next few days I'll post up my thread on my tripod/ballhead review and assessment, so it's not just a review, it's also a bit of a tirade on what I had to do to make these inadequate devices work in some meaningful way too.
    I pulled both the manfrottos apart and sprayed them liberally with WD-40 to clean them out not to lubricate them.
    I wiped as much of the WD off the ballhead to maintain a proper metal to metal connection, as this is a better friction dependent connection that a metal to metal with lubrication joint is!

    Remember it's not a fast moving metal to metal joint. It won't wear out due to the movement you provide.

    The legs may need regular cleaning tho., If you submerge them in salt water or use them on sand on a regular basis, you should try to pull them apart and clean them out with regular water .. no lubricant.
    My preferred legs are carbon fibre which are impervious to rust, but when I used them in salty water, they would build up a thin layer of salty residue. This was never an operational issue, just an issue, so I pull them apart and just wash them in the laundry sink with a moist cloth. Put them together and they're clean.
    Salt does corrode aluminium over time.
    Sand is just plain annoying!
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    Thanks every one. Wow AK that is some answer, I dont think i'll be pulling my ball head apart any time soon. I'll be keeping an eye out for your review.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    I didn't pull the ball out of the casing, just pulled out various locking levers and adjustment knobs and stuff like that.

    Quite easy actually and the balls(that I noted) required the use of a large circlip removing tool, which I didn't have(I think.. I probably do, but it's buried in amongst other stuff).

    All I did was to spray the ball, with the knobs fully loosened and just keep rotating it until it came clean.
    Used a large rag of some kind to minimise the mess it would make tho, and the rag soaks up a fair bit of the grey goop that cleans off the ball.

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    I have had my ball head for 4 years and haven't lubricated it or the legs once. The environment you use your equipment in would dictate this a little though, if you were out in the dust, day in day out im sure it wouldn't last as long as being used in a studio.
    I just follow the general rule of wiping my equipment down at the end of the day.

    Doc.
    Always have been, and always will be a Canon man.

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